Illustrated Places: Waikiki Beach, Norfolk, Saratoga, and Charleston

Hey! Long time no see! Spring is in the air (as long as you ignore the dump of snow we got yesterday and the toothy icicles that are dangling from my car’s bumper) and I’m thawed out and ready to ease back into my routine of spewing hot air at you here on the blog.

Where have I been, you ask? All over! In places sunny and warm! I spent January and February working on a commission that had me traveling (okay okay, I wasn’t actually traveling…it was more of a mental thing) to Hawaii, South Carolina, New York, and Virginia. I was working on a project for a dear friend, who, back in December, asked me to illustrate each of the four places that her boyfriend lived while he was serving in the Navy. She wanted to surprise him with the set when he got out of the Navy in March.

So after the December holidays were over, I got to work on the project. It began with a lot of fits and starts as I worked out my ideas and tried to settle down on a style. (Note to self: don’t get carried away getting “inspired” on Pinterest and the Googles. If you look at TOO MUCH art by TOO MANY wonderful people, your brain will short-circuit and you’ll lose the ground beneath you. You may love everyone else’s artistic style, but in the end, your work always ends up looking like your own. Don’t fall into the trap of brainstorm overload! You’ll get washed away in the surge of “possibilities”!)

Things also stagnated for a couple weeks when I got the flu. But eventually –after enough trial-and-error, mistakes and re-starts , bowls of soup and boxes of tissues — I settled down and found my groove.

I finished the set at the end of February, just in time to mail before March 3rd. Since they are now safely in the hands of my friend and her boyfriend, I can share them with you without ruining any surprises.

So here they are! 4 ink and watercolor illustrations (with hand drawn logos, I might add) of Waikiki Beach, HI; Saratoga, NY; Norfolk, VA; and Charleston, SC. Enjoy!

commissioned watercolor and ink illustration of Waikiki Beach by Jacque Oman Clinton

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii

ink and watercolor illustration of the horse tracks at Saratoga Springs, New York, by Jacque Oman Clinton

Saratoga. NY

ink and watercolor illustration of "the Lone Soldier" statue in Norfolk, VA. By Jacque Oman Clinton

Norfolk, VA

ink and watercolor illustration of Rainbow Row in Charleston, SC, by Jacque Oman Clinton

Charleston, SC

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Candy, cats, and coloring: The great equalizers

On Thursday mornings, I hang out with my niece before taking her to kindergarten.

She’s a good sport. She knows I don’t like to play dolls and that I don’t know the plot to “Frozen” very well. So she humors me and opts to do other things, like sculpting with play dough…and COLORING!

This morning we were two peas in a pod. We sat together, coloring and discussing important things — our favorite colors and seasons and all that good stuff.   We snitched candy off of her gingerbread house (Shhh, don’t tell her mom!). I convinced her that it was okay to color penguins with purple and green crayons. She convinced me that pink can be an okay color…sometimes. We laughed, we made cat noises, we teased each other. She oozed her Christmas cheer all over me, and I soaked it up like a sponge.

Candy, cats, coloring…that’s all we needed to bridge the decades between us. Art is fun and snacks are great. Hugs are precious and kids are amazing. Christmas is joy, gumdrops are sticky. Cats are cats. Aunt Jacque is weird.

Sometimes, life is as simple as that. Thank goodness there are kids to remind us of that!

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She draws good cats!

...and pretty awesome gingerbread houses

…and pretty awesome gingerbread houses

Like I said, we’re two peas in a pod. Earlier this week, I was drawing cats and houses, too! (Which isn’t surprising, I guess, since I tend to draw those things a lot…)

Pen and ink illustration of a cat watching birds from the top window of a CRAZY tower house, by Jacque Oman Clinton

(can you see the tiny cat, watching the birds in the upstairs window?)

It’s the holidays, dear friends. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the simple stuff!

 

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A Tiny House Pattern, and some Praise for Technology

I’m glad I live in the age of technology (is that what we call it?). Sure, it can be distracting. We fall off cliffs while catching Pokemon. We drop our phones in the toilet. We can’t sit through a 22 minute tv show without looking something up on Wikipedia. (Excluding the Pokemon example, by “we” I actually mean “I”).

But we’re also communicating, sharing, connecting, teaching, and learning! Without the ease of the internet, I wouldn’t have known where to turn for tips on pattern design. Who knows if the local library would have had books about it? Thanks to Amazon, I ordered a book and it got here the next day. Thanks to the generous teachings of bloggers and YouTubers, I watched videos on how to better use tools like Photoshop and Illustrator. And thanks to social media, I felt encouraged to keep making stuff after people reacted positively to my work.

Another nice perk of technology? Digital textile printing! As Kimberly Kight says in her (very helpful) book A Field Guide to Fabric Design:

“As you read this, fashion and textile design pioneers, newly freed by digital technology from the restrictions imposed by mass production–namely, limitations on the number of colors and the requisite use of pattern–are completely changing the notion of what a fabric print is.”

Fabric design, Kight, says, is entering the “territory of fine art.” Which means we all get to me more creative — and DRESS more creatively, too!

Anyway, here’s a pattern I made so that I could practice some new tricks that I picked up. These houses were definitely inspired by the wonderful colonial architecture that is so common here in Massachusetts. And because I tend to be excessive and am a nut about color, I’m sharing several versions of it with you:

Tiny Houses - WhiteTiny Houses - PurpleTiny Houses - GrayTiny Houses - Lavender

Which color do you like the best? I think the gray one would make a great bow tie. And the dark purple one…it just makes me happy.

As always, thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your weekend, and steer clear of Pokemon-inhabited cliffs.

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Poles and wires: Illustrating what gets overlooked in day-to-day life

Telephone Poles
I’m not sure why, but telephone, cable, and electricity poles really fascinate me. I was snapping photos of them all summer because they kept grabbing my attention and screaming “DO SOMETHING WITH ME”. When I see them, my imagination runs wild.

Maybe I’m bemused by them because they seem more “organic” than other parts of our modern day infrastructure. Nature, it seems, won’t allow the power companies to overtake it. Instead, she incorporates the wires into the environment by tangling them in vines, covering them with trees, and spangling them with birds (yes I DID just say “spangling”, thank you!).

Yes, I take notice of these things – or rather, they FORCE me to notice them. Take a walk with me in town and I can show you the stretch of wire where all the pigeons like to gather. And I can take you to the one where, at approximately 5 PM each day, the mockingbird sits and talks to himself. Then there’s the spot where a tree trunk is literally ABSORBING a wire into its expanding girth. It’s great.

Well, after a nonstop summer, I finally found a moment to harness my obsession and make a careless illustration about it. While I was hoping my doodle would turn out more “whimsical” looking, it is, at least, a start.  I’ve learned that when I’m approaching new subject matter, I tend to start out with a more “realistic” drawing before I let loose. I guess that’s how I familiarize myself with things. It’s an exercise in observation through which I find my jumping off points — it helps me find the creative elements that I want to extract and play with later. So this might just be step 1 in yet another, lifelong side-project/distraction. (Add it to my restless desire to document all of life’s plants, birds, and cats, forever and ever, Amen). Woo, a mission! I shall, one day, bring the Telephone Pole to the forefront of artistic coolness!

But, lest you think I’ve wandered off the deep end, don’t worry! I haven’t really let the telephone poles take over my brain – I’ve got other projects going on, especially now that it’s FALL! But like my husband constantly reminds me, life is long. Goodness knows the telephone poles aren’t going anywhere. So for now I’ve calmed down (yeah right) and am, as always, carrying on with my creative endeavors. The telephone poles will be nearby when next I have time to rendezvous with them.

Whew! What a relief.

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